Cursed (2005 film)

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Cursed
Cursed poster.jpg
Theatrical Release Poster
Directed by Wes Craven
Produced by Bob Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein
Kevin Williamson
Written by Kevin Williamson
Starring Christina Ricci
Joshua Jackson
Jesse Eisenberg
Judy Greer
Music by Marco Beltrami
Cinematography Robert McLachlan
Edited by Patrick Lussier
Lisa Romaniw
Production
company
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release dates
  • November 7, 2004 (2004-11-07) (AFM)
  • February 25, 2005 (2005-02-25) (United States)
Running time
97 minutes[1]
99 minutes (Unrated cut)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $38 million[2]
Box office $29,621,722[2]

Cursed is a 2005 American horror-comedy film directed by Wes Craven and written by screenwriter Kevin Williamson, who both collaborated on Scream. The film stars Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg as sister-and-brother protagonists. The plot focuses on these two estranged siblings who are attacked by a werewolf loose in Los Angeles.

Plot[edit]

The film begins in Hollywood, Los Angeles, when two friends, Jenny Tate and Becky Morton, are at a pier and decide to get their fortune told by Zela, asking about a boy. Zela foretells that they will suffer a horrible fate, but they don't believe her and walk away laughing. A little while later, Becky realizes Jenny has disappeared and can't find her on the pier.

On that same night, teenager Jimmy Myers is picked up on (thematically appropriate) Mulholland Drive by his sister Ellie, who has just returned from visiting her boyfriend, Jake Taylor. Jimmy had a run-in with some bullies and his crush, Brooke. Driving home, Jimmy and Ellie collide with an animal and another car. They attempt to rescue the other driver, Becky Morton, but she is suddenly dragged and ripped in half by an unseen creature. Jimmy and Ellie are both slashed by the creature's claws, but make it out alive. When interviewed by police, despite Jimmy's belief that it was a wolf or dog-type animal, the official report credits it to a bear or cougar.

Once they get home, Jimmy does research about wolves in California and starts to believe that the creature was a werewolf, which, the next morning, he nonchalantly tells Ellie, much to her disbelief. Jimmy and Ellie start to exhibit strange tendencies. While working at the television station, Ellie is attracted to the smell of blood on a co-anchor, but Ellie denies it, apparently proving her point by touching a silver picture frame and not getting burned. Jimmy becomes much stronger and more aggressive, as shown when a bully named Bo coerces him to join the wrestling team. He easily defeats three wrestlers, including Bo, and calls Bo out for constantly making gay jokes towards him, saying that Bo himself is repressing his own homosexuality.

Meanwhile, at a party, Jenny runs into Jake amd Joanie, Scott Baio's publicist, who pays attention to Jake. Jenny leaves the party after an awkward encounter, and Jake and Joanie leave as the full moon rises. Jenny is torn apart in a parking garage by a werewolf. Zela's prediction for Jenny and Becky thus comes true.

Ellie starts to believe the werewolf hypothesis when she sees Zela at the news station and she warns about the coming full moon. Jimmy proves it when he holds a silver cake server and gets burned (he then discovers that the picture frame Ellie touched was actually stainless steel). Their dog, Zipper,[3] bites Jimmy, tasting his blood, becomes a lycanthropoid monster, and goes on a rampage. Realizing what's happening, Jimmy goes to warn Ellie with the help of Bo, who shows up at their house to confess that he is gay and has feelings for Jimmy, which Jimmy attributes to the curse. Bo and Jimmy race to where Ellie is.

In the meantime, she figures out that Jake is a werewolf. He confirms it, but claims it wasn't he who attacked her and Jimmy. Another werewolf attacks, seemingly proving his story. Bo and Jimmy try to help, but Bo is knocked out. The new werewolf is revealed to be Joanie, who had a one-night stand with Jake and became a werewolf (a pentagram on her right hand establishes this truth, in the lore of the world of Cursed). She wants revenge by killing all of the other girls he dates. He refuses to let Joanie hurt Ellie, so she knocks him out. Joanie soon turns into a werewolf and starts attacking. Ellie and Jimmy fight her, and she runs and hides when the police arrive. The two draw her out by insulting her, which she (in werewolf form) responds to by giving them the finger. The police open fire, apparently killing her. What they don't know is that the only way to kill a werewolf is to separate the brain from the heart. As she rises again, a cop shoots her in the head, finally killing her. Bo is okay, but Jake has disappeared.

Jimmy and Ellie return to a wrecked home. As Jimmy goes to try to restore the power, Jake arrives. He reveals that he did in fact bite Ellie and Jimmy, and he wants Ellie to live forever by his side after he kills Jimmy. She refuses, and the two fight it out, but her werewolf side only emerges and disappears at small intervals, while he has complete control over his werewolf side and dominates the fight. Jimmy joins in, climbing across the ceiling and biting Jake, distracting him long enough for Ellie to stab him with the silver cake server, which badly injures him. Ellie decapitates Jake with a shovel and breaks the curse on her,Jimmy and their dog. They watch as Jake's body bursts into flames, eventually leaving only the silver cake server. Brooke brings home their dog, Zipper, having learned where they live from Bo, who also shows up. Bo and Jimmy are now friends; Jimmy kisses Brooke and walks her home along with Bo. Ellie is stuck with the clean-up of the messy house.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The original script was written in August 2000. Dimension co-founder Bob Weinstein announced in October 2002 that Cursed would "reinvent the werewolf genre," and Wes Craven would direct with the movie being released around August 2003.

Christina Ricci, Skeet Ulrich and Jesse Eisenberg were cast as the three leads. The original plot line had three strangers brought together by a car accident in the Hollywood Hills and the subsequent attack of a werewolf. The three characters were named Ellie Hudson, Vince Winston, and Jimmy Myers. With a budget of $38 million, Cursed commenced shooting March 2003 in Los Angeles. The set used for the high school is Torrance High School, the same used for Sunnydale High on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and West Beverly High on Beverly Hills, 90210 and its spin-off 90210. Filming also occurred at Verdugo Hills High School.[5] Special effects were shot in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

However, the film soon suffered numerous production and script issues and was postponed for over a year. While production was stalled, several cast members had to be replaced due to scheduling conflicts with other films. When the movie was re-written and re-shot, many cast members had been cut entirely, including Skeet Ulrich, Mandy Moore, Omar Epps, Illeana Douglas, Heather Langenkamp, Scott Foley, Robert Forster, and Corey Feldman. Some of them had even filmed scenes which were scrapped by director Wes Craven. In the film, Ellie works among the crew of The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, with Kilborn making a cameo appearance and Scott Baio, as himself, being booked to appear on the show. But by the time the film was released in February 2005, Kilborn had left the show and had been replaced with Craig Ferguson.

Only about 90% of original version was filmed, leaving the original scripted version unfilmed. Although, while filming the original version, producer Bob Weinstein told Wes Craven he was happy with the film, he later changed his opinion and ordered for the movie to be re-shot with a new plot. After massive re-shoots which included filming a newly written ending, Weinstein told Craven that he didn't like the new ending leading to another ending where Jake attacks Ellie and Jimmy in their home, despite some incoherence with the rest of the film. [6]

Rick Baker did the werewolf effects for the original version of the film, but once Bob Weinstein and Miramax ordered re-shoots, all the scenes with Baker's effects were deleted and replaced by KNB. [7]

In the fall of 2004, Dimension cut the film to a PG-13 rating instead of the planned R rating. Speaking to the New York Post, Wes Craven commented, "The contract called for us to make an R-rated film. We did. It was a very difficult process. Then it was basically taken away from us and cut to PG-13 and ruined. It was two years of very difficult work and almost 100 days of shooting of various versions. Then at the very end, it was chopped up and the studio thought they could make more with a PG-13 movie, and trashed it ... I thought it was completely disrespectful, and it hurt them too, and it was like they shot themselves in the foot with a shotgun."[8]

Jenny's death scene in the elevator was originally much gorier, her dead body shown with her belly ripped apart, but not even the R-rated DVD version included this scene. A picture of her mutilated body was, however, shown in a Fangoria article published before the film's release covering the infamously troubled production. [9]

In 2008, Wes Craven was quoted saying; "... the Cursed experience was so screwed up. I mean, that went on for two-and-a-half years of my life for a film that wasn't anything close to what it should have been. And another film that I was about to shoot having the plug pulled – Pulse – so it was like, I did learn from the Cursed experience not to do something for money. They said, 'We know you want to do another film, we'll pay you double.' And we were 10 days from shooting, and I said fine. But I ended up working two-and-a-half years for double my fee, but I could have done two-and-a-half movies, and done movies that were out there making money. In general, I think it's not worth it and part of the reason my phone hasn't rung is that that story is pretty well known."[8][10]

In 2014, costar Judy Greer spoke of the film in an interview: "I don't know why that movie got so fucked up. I don't understand it. I thought the script was fine. Honest to god, I didn't get the big deal. I don't know who kept making them fuck with it. Then we shot the movie for, like, seven years. I think they said we had four movies worth of footage. It was so fun, but so weird. I don't get it. I couldn't figure it out."[11]

Marketing[edit]

The taglines include "What doesn't kill you can make you stronger", "Have you ever felt like you're not human anymore?" and "The Evolution of the Specie."

Several film posters were released, some for abroad, such as the Swedish poster with the tagline "Vem kan du lita på vif fullmåne?" ("Whom can you trust during the full Moon?"); the unrated version's poster has a red color palette, rather than the standard American. A second American poster gives the title as Wes Craven's Cursed with the tagline "Living comes at a price."[12]

Release[edit]

In the United States, the film was originally to be released as an R-rated film with graphic violent scenes. However, the studio wished to have a more marketable PG-13 rating, and the film was edited and released as a PG-13 film. In Canada, the uncut version of the film was released theatrically and received a 14A in Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario, a 14 in the Maritimes (after appeal) and a 13+ in Quebec. In British Columbia, the film was given an 18A and, after an unsuccessful appeal,[13] the edited US version was submitted, 14A-rated, and released in British Columbia.

Home media[edit]

When released on DVD in the US on June 21, 2005, two versions were available: the original theatrical version (rated PG-13; 97 min.), and also an unrated version (99 min.) which contains the footage cut to obtain a PG-13 rating and runs approximately 2 minutes longer than the original release. The film received its Blu-ray release on September 11, 2012 in a double feature with another Wes Craven film They.

In Canada, Alliance Atlantis released the unrated (marketed as 'Uncensored') version only on DVD (as opposed to Dimension Home Video in the US) and the DVD cover was changed to match the original theatrical poster.

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received largely negative reviews, earning a 16% approval rating among 94 surveyed critics on Rotten Tomatoes, which concluded, "A predictable plot and cheesy special effects make Cursed a less-than-scary experience."[14] The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "Cursed is a third-rate effort, with a weak script, cheap-looking effects and no genuine frights."[15] Film Threat stated, "Not that it doesn't make movie history. Until this past Friday, the worst werewolf film ever made was, hairy hands down, Mike Nichols' Wolf. Cursed now assumes that dubious distinction and someone is going to have to try very hard to wrestle it away."[16]

Rafe Telsch of Cinema Blend, granting the movie 2 out of 5 stars, felt that "Cursed isn't a bad film, and actually takes a unique approach to modern day genre movies by styling itself as an older one... The film is a fun little romp in the werewolf world, although Cursed never really sets any rules for the creatures themselves, leaving itself open to keep cute faces like Ricci's uncovered by makeup, but leaving the audience unsatisfied that there aren't really many werewolves in this werewolf movie."[17]

Box office[edit]

Cursed opened theatrically on February 25, 2005, grossing $19,297,522 at the North American box office and $10,324,200 internationally for a total worldwide gross of $29,621,722 against a $38 million budget, making the film a box office bomb.

References[edit]

External links[edit]